The ruling Democratic Party and government agreed Monday to create a new ministry supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and venture startups as part of a government reorganization plan, party officials said.
During the election campaign, President Moon Jae-in pledged to enhance support for the SMEs through a higher-level government entity so that the nation can create more jobs and better cope with stiff global industrial competition.
The agreement came during the first meeting among senior officials from the ruling party, government and presidential office Cheong Wa Dae since the Moon administration was launched May 10.
Under the restructuring plan, the trade section will continue to belong to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, but a trade bureau will be installed under the ministry, officials said. The trade chief will be a vice ministerial official but be called a minister, they added.
It is a reversal of Moon's policy planning advisory panel's earlier position to transfer it to the foreign ministry.
"(We) have agreed to install the trade bureau to respond to the rapidly changing trade environment and the spread of protectionism," Democratic Party policy chief Kim Tae-nyeon told reporters.
Kim pointed out that the government reorganization plan aims to revitalize the economy, enhance public safety and reflect social changes in the government structure.
The fire service and the Coast Guard that currently belong to the Ministry of Public Safety and Security will be separated to function as independent agencies -- a move to further strengthen public safety.
The agency in charge of veterans' affairs will be elevated to a ministerial level to better support those who have contributed to national security.
To spur the country's technological advancement, a "science technology innovation" bureau will be installed in the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
The envisioned change will refurbish the government into a structure of 18 ministries, five lower-level ministries and 17 agencies, from the current 17 ministries, five lower ministries and 16 agencies.
Officials explained that the change was kept to a minimum to quickly stabilize state affairs hampered by a government transition and the March 10 ouster of former President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal.
Ruling party lawmakers plan to submit the plan to the National Assembly during an extraordinary parliamentary session this month.
Monday's meeting was attended by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Interior Minister Hong Yun-sik, Democratic Party leader Choo Mi-ae, its floor leader Woo Won-shik, presidential chief of staff for policy Jang Ha-sung, chief presidential secretary for political affairs Jun Byung-hun and other officials.